COVID-19 and the future of globalization
During recent weeks the world witnessed several landmark events. Leaders of nations big and small were forced to make difficult decisions. The global nature of the pandemic and the ensuing crisis changed the face of globalization itself. These changes often had mixed results. Here is a quick look at some of these trends.
Global commerce vs. local priorities
While the pandemic was spreading, most countries shut off their borders to all but essential movement. However the restrictions soon expanded into the economic and other domains. In March India placed a ban on the global export of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that showed promise for treating coronavirus. The US government stopped the export of masks to Canada under the Defense Production Act. Widespread logistical issues caused fears about international cooperation breaking down. Most of these challenges were caused by the disruption of key global supply chains.
Governments and firms are now looking at models that can shift their reliance away from overseas suppliers. Large corporations are trying to move from global just-in-time supply to more controllable local sourcing. The Harvard Business Review predicted in May that public opinion about globalization is likely to permanently change.
Empowerment of leadership
Many world leaders did their utmost to combat the impacts of COVID-19. However, some countries seemed to have exceptionally effective strategies. Nations that suffered fewer losses from the pandemic greatly credited their national leaders for their effective policies and timely response. These leaders became exceptionally popular and empowered. For example, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen quickly closed off the country’s borders and initiated a lockdown in early March. This helped reduce the number of effective cases considerably. According to a July poll by the statistics portal Statista, 76% of the Danish people now support her.
Vietnamese President Nguyễn Phú Trọng issued a guidance on outbreak prevention and detection as early as January 21. In June the IMF reported that because of this proactive approach Vietnam will make a quicker economic recovery than other countries in the region. The president gained considerable popularity for his proactive decisions.
One trend has been consistent globally. Populations have depended on their national leaders to make sound judgments, and follow them up with decisive action. Narratives from around the world give evidence that in a crisis people are willing to empower their leaders with unbounded trust and support. In coming years we are likely to see a new wave of global leadership characterized by bold decisions and bolder actions.
Gender and leadership
Female state leaders might be seen in a different light after the pandemic. A June publication by The Harvard Business Review mentions that countries with women in leadership have suffered six times fewer confirmed deaths from COVID-19 than countries with governments led by men. This indicates that the role of gender in world leadership is likely to change.
The global media was quick to highlight the “me first” kind of behavior from prominent leaders of the world. Yet, there was plenty of cross-border cooperation motivated by a “let’s work together” ideology. This was particularly evident in the scientific community. Scientists in Australia and China collectively analyzed the COVID-19 genome. They made it freely available to help speed up the global vaccine research. To this end health experts from all continents regularly share information on various online communication platforms. Clinical trials are being conducted on a global scale.
Flow of information
In some ways the present crisis has brought nations closer together, and unified them with a stream of essential data. In March a team of 300 engineers joined forces to build a 3D-printed ventilator on Facebook under the Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies initiative. In May UNESCO organized a global hackathon to find solutions for controlling COVID-19. More than 165 participants from 26 countries contributed to the event. Some of the ongoing open source projects to fight the crisis are unprecedented in their global scale and scope. The Institute of Management Development predicts that the world may well become more globalized, at least in terms of the flow of ideas and solutions, if not products.
The gig economy
While corporations try to find ways to localize the supply of materials, the exact opposite is taking place in human resources. Organizations big and small are seeking remote workers and gig workers. Gig work is now being done at scale. With cost-effectiveness a priority, organizations are no longer averse to hiring overseas and temp workers. It is easy for businesses to send money online to pay their contract workers regardless of geography. The reliance on full-time workers is in decline. According to Deloitte’s ‘Future of Work Accelerated’ report, 60% of organizations are estimating an increase on the reliance of gig workers. These new trends are powering the gig economy.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.